2018-02-07: Inject a Memory

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==============================<* Gunsmoke Desert *>===============================

The Gunsmoke Desert occupies the northwestern portion of Ignas. This desert is different from Aveh's. Instead of rolling dunes of sand, it has dry and cracked ground, and the mountains that rim it also intrude into the interior, forming stunning rock formations that can look as beautiful as they look impossible. The settlements here are hard-pressed to survive, consisting of countless small towns. The lucky few are connected by railways to the Seed Cities scattered about the Gunsmoke. Many are lost to the sands, which cover them and a tremendous concentration of ruins from Filgaia's past. This makes these badlands the heart of Drifter activity in Ignas.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4z_CxmE0AkA
DG: A party led by Neriah Parringer is now entering Ash Hare.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
==================================<* Ash Hare *>==================================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Rockslide-Prone Path *>======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 One might think that the first step is getting inside of Ash Hare, but they   
 would be mistaken. The first step is getting to the doors. The huge double    
 doors, composed of a solid grey-blue steel, have opened and have a light      
 teal glow coming from the many panel lines on them. Someone, it seems, has    
 already braved these hallways once.                                           
                                                                               
 Whoever it was left the rocky approach to the ruins in a ghastly state.       
 Explosions have carved huge craters out, making a pockmarked approach that    
 is dangerous in the extreme. The slightest misstep can send rocks tumbling    
 down, and a few boulders bounce down upon your approach, try as you might to  
 be careful.                                                                   
                                                                               
 But, at least, it won't be hard to get inside.                                
=Dungeon Conditions: Bad Luck, Tire===========================================
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"I know some of you might not love each other a ton right now," Neriah says before the team begins the climb towards Ash Hare. "In fact, some of you may even be enemies most of the time. But just for a day - just one magical day, for the sake of helping me do something really stupid so I can figure out why I'm cursed - I'm asking you to unite around the most important thing of all.

"My love for you," Neriah says with a perfectly straight face. "And the fact that I will give some of the sweetie muffins among you a huge hug when this is all over."

Riesenlied. She means Riesenlied.

-----

It's not her first time attempting to scale the craterous incline leading up to the mysterious place known as Ash Hare, but Neriah's still not going to have an easy go of it: It's treacherous indeed. She's helping herself out through the expedient of a small climbing claw, the head of which she's dug into the slope like a handle. Pulling herself up to a foothold with some effort, she lets out a tight breath, moving up to the next foothold.

"All we've gotta do is get to that old medical lab again," she calls down to the others. "See if we can find whatever that mechanical arm was. And see if I can get it to do whatever it did to me last time."

Her lips come together tightly. "...And if it does," she says, "don't pull it out of me unless something really seems to be going wrong."

Again she reaches for another handhold and pulls herself up with help from that climbing pick. Not for the first time she finds herself wishing for a set of wings. "Flying sounds real good right now," she grumbles.

DG: Neriah Parringer has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Rockslide-Prone Path.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied is... definitely the odd one out here, is she not?

She wasn't certain if she wanted to return to Ash Hare. She'd seen what that medical arm did to Maya, and she wasn't sure that anyone else should ever experience it again. But here, Neriah wanted to see why she was cursed... and she isn't certain this was the best way to do it -- but she wanted to make sure she was all right, at least.

She's trying to tell herself that she's also here for Leon and Lily, to find anything else she can of Kislev's plans, to discover the extent of the operations they have around utilising this base as a recharge station.

It's still a rather silly idea on her part, and with enough clamoring on Odjn's part--

--she does provide the wings Neriah wishes she had, because it's not by her own power that she descends down the crater towards the teal-lined base and instead on...

"Muni-nii, nii-mu-niii!" (TN: Don't worry Riese! I'll protect you from any bullies!!)

... an adorable teardrop-shaped dragon's back, who lowers itself in a much more sedate pattern than when she did the first time, rolling down the cliff and bonking against Ash Hare's front gate.

"Thank you..." she expresses, still hesitant and sedate, especially as she glances in the way of a certain Veruni agent...

DG: Riesenlied has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Rockslide-Prone Path.
<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

"I know, right." Iskandra answers Neriah as she climbs alongside the other, using her wings for balance as she carefully progresses forwards, trying to avoid getting into any too nasty falls as she progresses. She's careful enough, and glances towards the others to make sure none of them need any healing or other aid.

DG: Iskandra Grendorre has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Rockslide-Prone Path.
<Pose Tracker> Millenia has posed.

"Moi, hated?" Millenia feigns shock and awe, a hand on her chest as she gestures dramatically. "What sort of holy maiden do you take me for, little Nerry? What a harsh judgment! Why, I..." She looks about. There's a long pause as she realizes she knows not one soul present, safe their host and the muffin-to-be-hugged. "Don't quite know any of you!"

The woman laughs, her heels clicking on the ground as she follows but, eventually, comes to a stop. A climb? As if. She might break a nail trying to hold on to those jagged rocks! That'd be unfortunate. No, Riesenlied has the right idea.

Millenia arches forward, long black wings sprouting from her back before she straightens herself again. She hops off the ground, so casually, but there's something incredibly wrong with those wings, the light they cast managing to clear the air just as much as they seem to weigh on the mind. It's unnatural.

She picks Neriah up, ready to carry her to their destination.

"Don't say I never did anything nice for you after this~ <3"

DG: Millenia has used her Tool Wings of Valmar toward her party's challenge, Rockslide-Prone Path.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

"Awwww, now what kinda hatemongerers d'you think we are?" Ragnell drawls to Neriah, arms folded behind her neck. "Jus' 'cuz we're out to fuck up humanity doesn't mean we gotta be *mean* about it."

That's a joke. She's joking.

The incline to the place known as Ash Hare might be unstable and dangerous, but that never stopped the likes of the Lightning Seraph. She considers the many rocks and boulders on the way up as Neriah explains her goals and desires here, then pulls out a piece of twice-baked bread. It's chocolate. It's actually quite tasty. She breaks it in half, then stuffs one piece in her mouth while tossing the other to K.K..

"Heads up," she drawls before she does so, her only warning. If anyone else ends up wanting a chocolate rusk, she'll actually share. She half-smirks at Neriah's complaint about wings as compared to Iskandra, Muni-Muni, and Millennia's showing-off of wings; then, with the chocolate rusk's special ability of preventing any slowdowns (ah, consumable items, what would we ever do without you), she begins to nimbly make her way up. If someone were to offer or ask her for help, she won't... *necessarily* say no.

DG: Seraph Ragnell has used her Tool Chocolate Rusk toward her party's challenge, Rockslide-Prone Path.
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

It was not often that people, humans specifically, requested Ambrosius's presence. Normally he was the one putting out the requests, or showing up uninvited. Neriah's request was an interesting one, and so he decided it was worth answering.

He did not realize until he arrived at the designated meeting place that the same request had been extended toward Riesenlied, as well.

As such, he was a little...awkward and quiet, even moreso than he usually is, as they approach Ash Hare. He has not met Riesenlied's eyes once, and it is only when Neriah explains their mission that he speaks.

"...If neeecessary...I will...maniiipulate the...equiiipment...myself...to get the resuuult...you seek..." Perhaps his technological prowess was why he had been invited along in the first place, among other reasons.

It is at this point that a woman with unusual wings aims to pick up Neriah and carry her off. ...It was as she said - he didn't know her. There's something interesting about her, though. His focus, however, is on the climb.

He very carefully, and without any further words, starts making his way up the mountain. He'll probably need some help, but he isn't about to ask for it.

<Pose Tracker> K.K. has posed.

The Trial Knight is not amongst those gathered when Neriah addresses her team; as usual, the white knight seems to go where they wish, when they wish, with little explanations as to the hows or the whys. It is why they are -not- there when Neriah and her team assembles at the entrance of Ash Hare, at the steep crater upon which the ancient ruin rests. Why they are not there as the others begin their descent.

And why their presence is only announced with the sound of a sharpened sword stabbing into precarious bedrock.

They are there, at the lip of the crater, as the others begin their descent. Sword struck into the rock surrounding the climbing party, the tensile strength of the glowing red rope that spools off its hilt might almost seem an offer --

"Should any of those who yet count their nature amongst man attempt to hold this line, it shall be severed forthwith."

Save for the cold certainty of that tinny warning that prefaces their sudden drop across the steep incline of Ash Hare, polished armor contrasting sharply with the earthen tones that surround them and gleaming in the green light of the approaching doors as they carve their way down the terra firma.

No explanations. No greetings. The Trial Knight just descends along with the rest, apparently and quite simply intent on joining them as if theirs was the only say in the matter, snatching that rusk out of the air as they go.

A moment later, the rusk is gone.

There is also no explanation for how that worked, either.

K.K. has joined your party!

DG: K.K. has used their Tool Grapple Line toward their party's challenge, Rockslide-Prone Path.
==================================<* Ash Hare *>==================================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Rockslide-Prone Path *>======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 One might think that the first step is getting inside of Ash Hare, but they   
 would be mistaken. The first step is getting to the doors. The huge double    
 doors, composed of a solid grey-blue steel, have opened and have a light      
 teal glow coming from the many panel lines on them. Someone, it seems, has    
 already braved these hallways once.                                           
                                                                               
 Whoever it was left the rocky approach to the ruins in a ghastly state.       
 Explosions have carved huge craters out, making a pockmarked approach that    
 is dangerous in the extreme. The slightest misstep can send rocks tumbling    
 down, and a few boulders bounce down upon your approach, try as you might to  
 be careful.                                                                   
                                                                               
 But, at least, it won't be hard to get inside.                                
=Dungeon Conditions: Bad Luck, Tire===========================================
DG: Ambrosius has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Rockslide-Prone Path.
==================================<* Ash Hare *>==================================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Rockslide-Prone Path *>======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 One might think that the first step is getting inside of Ash Hare, but they   
 would be mistaken. The first step is getting to the doors. The huge double    
 doors, composed of a solid grey-blue steel, have opened and have a light      
 teal glow coming from the many panel lines on them. Someone, it seems, has    
 already braved these hallways once.                                           
                                                                               
 Whoever it was left the rocky approach to the ruins in a ghastly state.       
 Explosions have carved huge craters out, making a pockmarked approach that    
 is dangerous in the extreme. The slightest misstep can send rocks tumbling    
 down, and a few boulders bounce down upon your approach, try as you might to  
 be careful.                                                                   
                                                                               
 But, at least, it won't be hard to get inside.                                
=Dungeon Conditions: Bad Luck, Tire===========================================
=============================<* Ash Hare - Round 1 *>=============================
========================< Results - Rockslide-Prone Path >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Neriah Parringer                    0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ambrosius                           0 --(20)--> 20                 Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Millenia                            0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
Wings of Valmar                     2   Agility Effects: Sacrifice and Cleanse
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Iskandra Grendorre                  0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Ragnell                      0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
Chocolate Rusk                      1   Agility Effects: Cleanse              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
K.K.                                0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
Grapple Line                        2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Neriah Parringer            0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Bad Luck(2)|Tire(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Quicken(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >=================================
DG: The party led by Neriah Parringer has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"Gosh, the dead, you're so classy," Neriah quips with a wry smirk back at Ragnell.

For just a moment, Neriah stares at Riese's teardrop-shaped dragon. "Oh my god, that's so cute," she gushes in spite of herself as she mentally reclassifies some things.

> Riesenlied has been promoted to Super Sweetie Muffin.

And then Millenia picks her up. With a little squeak, Neriah wiggles for a moment, but finally just accedes to the assistance of the Wings of Valmar, a soft blush colouring her cheeks. "Well. I don't hate you at all," she admits. "I don't hate anyone here. But... thanks."

She clears her throat. "...And I guess you have been pretty nice to me so far," she concedes.

Then the Trial Knight turns up. Neriah...

...blushes a little. The Trial Knight turning up to help was... unexpected, in some ways. But welcome.

The wings help; Riesenlied and Muni-Muni make it to the top, and Millenia is able to avoid the worst of the cratering to set Neriah down. Iskandra too gets to skip her way to safety. The power of chocolate rusk, meanwhile, will not be denied; Ragnell and K.K. end up not too far behind the rest.

Ambrosius gets a tougher row to hoe, a particularly treacherous set of footholds troubling him. Neriah does reach down to help him the last little way, though.

DG: Seraph Ragnell has drawn a new Challenge.
=================================<* Ash Hare *>=================================
===================<* CHALLENGE - Observation Drone Swarm *>====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 When you step into this long hallway, you hear a loud click. A large panel    
 opens in the wall -- and three dozen basketball-sized drones with dragonfly   
 wings, each made of light, come flying out and soar straight towards you.     
 Although each drone is small and fragile, when there are nearly forty of      
 them in a swarm, there is a real danger of being bashed and broken into       
 pieces. They come in a wave, flying as fast as they can.                      
                                                                               
 The panel that opened, however, may prove a shortcut. However, the swarm      
 will have to be cut through quickly; otherwise, the panel will close before   
 you can reach it.                                                             
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow, Treasure===========================================
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

How did Ragnell know K.K. would come to help? Well, that's just a silly question. Obviously she didn't, and only chucked that rusk their way after they appeared unannounced and out of nowhere. That's just how these things work. How other things work: climbing! Ragnell makes it over the mountain of rubble with no problems, landing on the other side nimbly and with a crooked grin. "That's m'name, 'Classy,'" she drawls to Neriah. She winks over at Riese and points a thumb her way. "Jus' like her name is Cutie-Pie."

She's not wrong, either.

Once everyone regroups on the other side, the group heads on inside. It seems quiet--eerily quiet, a slight electric buzz the only background noise--until the group enters a certain hallway. Then there is a CLICK, and a panel opens up in the wall. Ragnell's already drawing her pistols and falling into a combat position when three dozen drones swarm out of the panel. They're pretty big, and actually quite well-made--those dragonfly wings are legitimate pieces of art, and someone who smashes a drone might well be able to sell its wings elsewhere as a curiosity. Ragnell, who doesn't have much need for money, doesn't care; she just opens fire with lightning bullet after lightning bullet on the incoming swarm, laughing with enjoyment the whole way.

"Hey," she calls to the group, "who wants t'find out if that window these critters came out'f goes anywhere fun?"

One can consider that a challenge, because before anyone can get to it, first they need to cut a path through these flying buggers.

DG: Seraph Ragnell has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Observation Drone Swarm.
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Neriah gets a quiet nod of thanks from Ambrosius when she offers him her assistance. With her help he makes his way up, and then follows the rest inside.

It isn't long after they enter, however, that they find themselves swarmed with drones in the form of dragonflies. He'd encountered these before, and knew how they worked. He also knew they were quite susceptible to water.

Ambrosius holds his hand out toward him...and water pours down over them. It'll soak into their internals...and also conduct Ragnell's electricity particularly well.

One could be forgiven for believing that Ambrosius was aware that Ragnell would do this. He can't even see her, and is in fact only aware that she's here because he'd been told.

As he couldn't hear her, however, he makes no effort to head toward the panel Ragnell points out just yet.

DG: Ambrosius has used his Tool Deluge toward his party's challenge, Observation Drone Swarm.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"I always thought your name was the dead. Or at least Ragnell," Neriah says with a smirk for the Seraph in question. "I'm partial to the dead, though."

And then there's that click, interrupting the passive, dry buz of this place. As those globular drones emerge, one of them immediately spins crazily and smashes into the ground with a bullet hole dug into it, and the subtly ringing hiss of escaping steam echoes through the corridor.

Neriah was pretty quick on the draw, the Dragon Fossil-enhanced pistol she calls Marilyn already moving to the next target as she squeezes off a shot at another one, trying to peg it out of the air.

"I hope it goes somewhere amazing," she calls back to Ragnell, firing off a couple more shots before dashing forward. As a drone buzzes near her, she attempts to forward-roll beneath it, dashing towards that launch window and firing a couple more bullets to try and cover herself.

...She tries to grab one of the drones' wings as she goes, because Neriah can always use sweet, sweet gella. She does, however, throw a look back to Ambrosius. "Hey Ambrosius, come this way!" she shouts to him. "Follow the dead!"

A beat. "Wait, can you not see the dead?"

<Pose Tracker> Millenia has posed.

The wings are gone, as quickly as Millenia was willing to show them off - almost as much as her other assets, even. The way she carries herself isn't humble in the slightest, nor is the way she dresses. She pats Neriah on the head, gaze turning to the Trial Knight with curiosity flaring up. She gets up close, in his personal space, grinning wide as she circles around.

"I wonder if you're as handsome as the armor implies? A tall, buffed up heroic knight, or maybe a slender beautiful warrior?" Man or woman, even? Who knew! That was part of the fun.

Before she can actually put her hands on that silvery white armor and tarnish it with her touch, drones fly about, and that's probably for the best if she likes keeping her hands. She raises her right hand, and out of her sleeve pops out a wooden contraption, unfolding into a crossbow. It's not complex enough to be an ARM - just a small wooden weapon that can fold up. "How unsightly! Mechanical beings're no fun. No good for chatter OR appreciating a lady's value!" Though she IS curious about that window now. Maybe after!

The crossbow lets loose a single bolt, which flares up with bright pink light. And hearts. So many hearts. The bolt tries to cleave a path through multiple drones, showering everyone in beautiful sparkles.

DG: Millenia has used her Tool Crossbow toward her party's challenge, Observation Drone Swarm.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied gazes towards the Trial Knight when they appear -- and where they go, Ragnell was not far behind. There was a little pip of surprise as she lowers herself a little closer to Muni, much less animated than even her quiet self usually is. In they go, towards the chamber of the base proper...

Even Millenia is here, and she recalls her from when she nearly bled out from Ambrosius' bullet after El Pazzo. Was she here to help Neriah? She seemed sincere enough, certainly...

"... Muni, please..."

Muni bobbles excitedly as she steps down, and the Dragon kind of just--

ping

ping ping ping

--bounces along the walls to attempt to swat the mechanical creatures away.

DG: Riesenlied has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Observation Drone Swarm.
DG: Neriah Parringer has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Observation Drone Swarm.
<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

Iskandra watches the bats and agrees with Ragnell that going that way is interesting, as such she looks around for a gullible targe--helpful companion and picks Riesenlied, handing her a dark bottle containing some kind of liquid. "Drink this." She recommends, then takes a good step back. The liquid is quite tasty, and should help make the imbiber rather a bit more attractive to any instinct-driven creatures like bats, hopefully providing everyone else with an easier path through.

DG: Iskandra Grendorre has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Observation Drone Swarm.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

"O-oh, thank you," Riesenlied smiles softly towards Iskandra, horns wiggling gently. She uncorks the bottle, sniffs it... then takes a sip--

[ Encounter Rate Up! ]

--and yelps as several of the little dragonfly drones start to swarm in upon her. "H-hyaaah?!" she flails and whimpers as she ducks behind a corner to go, "Why're they going after me...??"

<Pose Tracker> K.K. has posed.

Implacably as ever, the white-armored figure of the Trial Knight makes landfall at the gates of Ash Hare without much pomp or ceremony. A sharp -yank- upon the glowing red line bundled against their gauntleted palm dislodges their short sword, gold, blue and golden metals gleaming in the open air as the weapon soars back to their hand... and shatters into so many ebbing motes of light seconds before they can reach that open and waiting palm.

Fractured crystals of white pours over the space surrounding the Trial Knight as that weapon dissipates; wordlessly, they press their palm upon the glowing surface of Ash Hare's opened gates. Clawed gauntlets scratch against the aged yet steadfast surface, horned helm tilting ever-so-slightly to the left as they seem intent to just... observe, for several, long moments before making their way after the others.

And 'observing' is very much the order of the day for K.K.; the weight of their stare can be felt on each of the other members of this party in turn as they make their way into the entrance of the ancient facility, as if assessing each in turn. They seem to see fit to say nothing, greet no one -- they hardly even seem to pause as Millenia circles about them so closely. A faceless helm tilts briefly towards the fluttering, de-winged woman, before that attention turns forwards, towards that empty space.

"I am what I must be," they say simply, voice warped and indistinguishable in its unrelenting stoicism.

Hands reach...

And there is a decisive -flash- of white in the space between Millenia and K.K. as radiant energy forges itself into the form of a massive warscythe colored in whites, blues and golds. It SWINGS--

--and cleaves through the swift approach of one of those drones the second they make themselves known, cleaving through metal and circuitry as if it were butter just as Millenia in turn produces that crossbow.

"As, it seems, are you."

The drone hits ground a second later, sputtering and sparking. And, spinning that massive weapon between their armored hands as if it weighed little more than a feather, the Trial Knight turns their attention upon the rest of the encroaching horde.

"Relent. Baubles such as you cannot reach me."

And with that, they -lunge- straight into the thick of it, that massive blade spinning like a beautiful whirlwind of destruction as the knight dances their daunting dance of uncompromising violence.

Challenge accepted, apparently.

DG: K.K. has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward their party's challenge, Observation Drone Swarm.
=================================<* Ash Hare *>=================================
===================<* CHALLENGE - Observation Drone Swarm *>====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 When you step into this long hallway, you hear a loud click. A large panel    
 opens in the wall -- and three dozen basketball-sized drones with dragonfly   
 wings, each made of light, come flying out and soar straight towards you.     
 Although each drone is small and fragile, when there are nearly forty of      
 them in a swarm, there is a real danger of being bashed and broken into       
 pieces. They come in a wave, flying as fast as they can.                      
                                                                               
 The panel that opened, however, may prove a shortcut. However, the swarm      
 will have to be cut through quickly; otherwise, the panel will close before   
 you can reach it.                                                             
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow, Treasure===========================================
============================<* Ash Hare - Round 2 *>============================
=====================< Results - Observation Drone Swarm >======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Neriah Parringer                    15 --(5)--> 20                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ambrosius                           20 --(5)--> 25                 Pass
Deluge                              1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Millenia                            15 --(5)--> 20                 Pass
Crossbow                            2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Iskandra Grendorre                  15 --(10)--> 25                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          15 --(5)--> 20                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Ragnell                      15 --(5)--> 20                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
K.K.                                15 --(5)--> 20                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Neriah Parringer            20 --(25)--> 45                Pass
Conditions: Slow(2)|Treasure(1)
Effects: Cleanse|Embolden(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Neriah Parringer has passed this challenge! The party gained 25 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

"I go by many names, each one sexier and more charming than the last," Ragnell jokes, winking at Neriah. "Right, K'?" As Millenia slinks over to said K.K. to attempt to get her hands on them, Ragnell watches her with an eyebrow slightly raised--but no violence need happen, because then dragonfly-bots happen, and... violence happens, to them. Although in Millenia's case, that violence is very... heartful.

"Where *did* you pick that one up, anyway?" she asks Neriah, still firing on the dragonflies. A snort follows at her remark on Ambrosius, as well as a laugh. "Don't worry 'bout it, Ner'. Not everyone's so blessed~."

Muni-Muni bounces along the walls to swat down the bots for Riesenlied's sake; Iskandra hands Riese a bottle of dubious liquid that, should she drink it, will make her attractive to said bots; Ambrosius sends forth a flood to weaken the bots in what is indeed a happy coincidence when combined with Ragnell's electric bullets; Millenia unleashes a possibly magical crossbow; Neriah fires bullets and attempts to grab a fallen bot's wings; and K.K. cleaves through the bots with a scythe from out of nowhere.

Between the lot of them, particularly with Muni-Muni available to squash any bots that come over to Riesenlied, the group manages to score a path through the drones to the window before it closes. Neriah manages to pick up several of those beautiful dragonfly-esque wings up for herself along the way, too. Score!

DG: Ambrosius has drawn a new Challenge.
================================<* Ash Hare *>================================
==============<* CHALLENGE - ADS-88 Walkure Defense Automaton *>==============
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The hallway before you is one of the wider ones of Ash Hare, and tall to      
 boot. As you step into it, the strange teal lights of the place shine down    
 on from their wall-mountings. A crackle runs through those lights, and then   
 shudders down the length of the room. Across the hallway from you, a large    
 circle opens up in the floor, and the screech of a metal elevator rising can  
 be heard.                                                                     
                                                                               
 A massive automaton, nearly three times the height of your average person,    
 rises out of it. One arm ends in a cannon; the other ends in a claw, which    
 crackles with lightning. The humanoid automaton takes a step forward, then    
 another, and the whole of the room shakes with each step.                     
                                                                               
 It lifts its claw arm -- and arcs of lightning explode out for you, before    
 it rushes into combat!                                                        
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound, Suffer============================================
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

...The dead? Ambrosius gives Neriah a confused look. What did she mean by 'the dead'? He doesn't really understand that, and doesn't believe that they're accompanied by a dead person. Even so, he moves to follow her lead through the panel the dragonflies emerged from, though not before giving Iskandra a slight frown. He does not, however, speak to Riesenlied, even though he does seem concerned...

Unfortunately, it does not seem to be a shortcut.

It seems to be a maintenance station for some of the machines that fill this place. There many cubbyholes that look to be the perfect size for the dragonfly drones they had just encountered. Several of these are shut and marked with a green light to indicate readiness, and many others are open and marked with a red light to indicate that the unit contained within has been destroyed.

This is not the most impressive part of this room, however. More impressive than that is the massive automaton in the center, three-times the height of an average individual. It seems to be at rest at the moment. Maybe you could just sneak...

...right...

...past...?

No.

The moment someone crosses a certain threshold, the maintenance station lights up with those teal lines evident through the entire ruin. The maintenance station detaches from the machine and it comes to life, its visor turning to face the party.

One arm bears a claw at the end, which crackles with electricity, and the one bears a cannon, which it begins to take aim with.

...Ambrosius dives to the side. He appears to be rummaging through his bags...until his hands eventually emerge with what appears to be a rifle of sleek red metal with silver linings. Veritas Varia, his weapon of choice in matters like this.

He takes aim at the machine and fires off several shots of bright green energy, all the while water begins to swirl and converge around him.

It forms a relaxing mist over the party, to help deal with the injuries they will most likely receive. Fortunately, it does not appear to be especially conductive...

DG: Ambrosius has used his Tool Deluge toward his party's challenge, ADS-88 Walkure Defense Automaton.
<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

"Take another sip." Iskandra recommends Riesenlied, ignoring her questions entirely, hoping that Riesenlied will distract the defense automaton while she closes in and brings her blade to bear. Her sword skills are a bit rough and unrefined, but she's not bad at it for certain. Should a certain white knight be here, he might even recognize what the primary influence was on her mostly self-taught form of swordfighting.

DG: Iskandra Grendorre has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, ADS-88 Walkure Defense Automaton.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Neriah does blush as Millenia pats her like that. "...Uh. Thanks?" she manages with a sheepish smile. "Actually K.K. there has been a great guide to me in a lot of ways...."

Shoving a few dragonfly wings into her pack, Neriah stops just inside the window to shrug at Ragnell. "From the fact that I thought you were a ghost when I first met you, to be honest," she admits.

Soon enough, they're in the maintenance station - and it lights up around them as the station suddenly comes to life. Widening her eyes, Neriah jumps back a couple of feet, then plants one of her slightly-too-high-to-be-practical heels; it hits the decking under her with a metallic tang.

The relaxing mist helps - but as the heavy cannon unleashes, Neriah has something else in mind. She inhales -

And cannonfire and electricity slam into the eldritch sphere that flickers to life around her with a surge of dreadful energy. The roiling patterns of unlight ripple across the shield. Behind it, Neriah's shoulders shudder as she keeps the shield up - but those who have felt it before may sense a difference.

It is more steady than it usually is. The power is a little less wild, less on the verge of going out of control.

Eyes narrowing, Neriah holds her shield up as the automaton unloads on her - but once its fire ceases, she draws in her breath. And with it, she inhales her own shield. It sucks into her body, compressing and sinking into her, coils of eldritch light whispering up her limbs, through her mouth and nostrils, through the creases of her right hand. Soon enough, the shield is out of view. Arcs of dark light crackle like black lightning across Neriah's body.

"I've been practicing," she breathes intentely.

Planting her heels apart, Neriah slashes her right arm across her body in a huge, sweeping arc. From her hand, all that eldritch energy pours - wreathed in the very electricity and explosive flame which had struck Neriah's shield just moments ago. The eldritch power explodes out of her in a roiling wave, blasting towards the attack machine with a relentless, crushing pressure, paying back all the pain it inflicted on her - amplified.

DG: Neriah Parringer has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, ADS-88 Walkure Defense Automaton.
<Pose Tracker> Millenia has posed.

An intimidating flash of silver separates the demon from the knight when the latter produces their weapon. Millenia purrs, almost, watching them leap into the fray like a berserker.

"Oh honey, stranger danger has never been so attractive. <3"

She likes keeping her hands, though. Maybe this one's more meant to be eye candy than something you can touch and feel. That's probably alright too.

Walking through the debris left from the drones, Millenia catches up with those who went for the up close and personal approach, chipper. "Nerry didn't find me! I found her. We're two pieces from the same pod, you see?" Pieces, not peas. Intentional! Probably nonsensical to everyone else. Sadly, this conversation will have to wait for a time when they are not beset by a large killing machine.

"Really, more of them? How dull! I thought you said this place would be interesting? All I see is scrap metal."

Hopefully that confidence isn't misplaced. Millenia raises the crossbow again, but she lifts her other hand this time too. "Let's see what temperatures you were built to handle!"

Flames and heartful crossbow bolts lance out together, but Millenia isn't even watching to see the results of her work. Her eyes are on Neriah, so she can properly grade that effort.

DG: Millenia has used her Tool Crossbow toward her party's challenge, ADS-88 Walkure Defense Automaton.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

Ragnell chuckles at Neriah. "Ahh, I remember that. Good times, good times. And then I walked through you." She rubs her chin for a moment in memory; then she leaves it at that. Millenia's antics meanwhile get her a snort of amusement. As usual, K.K. has matters in hand. Though what Millenia and Neriah say about each other is pretty interesting... but that, too, Ragnell leaves alone. For now.

Hmmm... The Seraph looks around curiously once they're all inside the maintenance station, particularly at the cubbyholes that are just the right sides for the drones they just fought and destroyed. There's quite a lot of them... Enough that even if it spat out three dozen drones every day for a month, it still wouldn't run out. Ragnell wonders if they've got a repair function for those that're destroyed, or if once they're done, they're done.

Even more impressive is the massive automaton waiting silently. Ragnell gives a low whistle, red eyes slowly climbing up its height. "How long d'you think it'd take to decommission *that* sucker?" she murmurs to no one in particular--it's a question for anyone who cares to field it. Un(?)fortunately, someone crosses a threshold and the mechanoid comes to life; when it starts charging up its lightning beam, Ragnell laughs and dives to one side. "You've got some nerve, using electricity against *me*!" she calls. "How 'bout I show you how it's *really* done?!"

A magic circle forms at her feet, pulsing with Seraphic energy; a moment later, Ragnell chain-casts a pair of Thunder Spears towards the mechanical monstrosity, aiming to pierce straight through its joints and potentially hamstring it. ...Not that machines have hamstrings, but still.

DG: Seraph Ragnell has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, ADS-88 Walkure Defense Automaton.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

There's an incredibly skeptical look from Riesenlied for a moment, like she might start to be connecting two and two together. Dark Bottle + Drinking It = Aggro On Me?? Surely it should be obvious by now--

She takes another drink.

How does the strange substance as the Dark Bottle work? Surely an automaton shouldn't really be affected by it, now would it--

Riesenlied stares up towards the maintenance station as the machine comes to life, its visor turning to face them...

"Um..."

A hatch on the back of the ADS-88 opens, and a missile sails through the air; there's a yelp from Riesenlied as she covers her head, and is consumed in the ensuing explosion, which rattles the very hallway and covers it in smoke and fire.

Is this the end of the leader of the Tainted?

"Niii..."

As the smokescreen abates, Riesenlied is ducking underneath a menacing two-legged form the likes of which only... well, Ambrosius has seen! Muni-Muni's form is no more a teardrop, armored limbs having emerged out from underneath her! Wings spread to either side, and an open-air cockpit sits at her top. Yes... this is...!

The mystical battle form of Muni-Muni, a certain magical, Munitekal Armour!

"Muuuuuu!!"

Armour or not, the adorable face of Muni still exists on the front chestplate-- which hinges open, launching a missile of pure force back towards the defense automaton. Eat your heart out, Tek Missile.

DG: Riesenlied has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, ADS-88 Walkure Defense Automaton.
DG: You've already acted for this round. Please wait for the round GM to push +act/complete.
<Pose Tracker> K.K. has posed.

Pieces of circuitry and bolts, severed wings and carved drones fall like rain around the Trial Knight in the wake of their onslaught; as if indifferent to their own work, they don't even look back, pushing -forward- as if they were simply walking -through- the drones rather than engaging them in any sort of meaningful skirmish as the knight pushes ahead through that panel. They offer only the briefest of glances behind them as Millenia speaks of the nature of her and Neriah's connection, but they do not stop for a second; the scythe remains at the ready, bladed edge kissing the metal-laced earth beneath them as they walk...

... straight into the heart of the enemy. A maintenance station for repairing and charging the automatons here, would be the technical explanation. Or...

"'Tis a hive."

It looks like the honeycomb of the proverbial swarm of bees.

And there, in its center, rises the Walkure, immense, glowing, cannon barrel crackling with electricity. K.K.'s gauntleted fingers curl around the long shaft of their weapon. They feel the familiar swell from Neriah upon the fringes of their senses, but they do not try to intervene. Their head cants.

"No queen are you, automaton," they observe, thoughtfully. Legs spread, metal screeching on metal. "A drone, then." Their warscythe lifts.

"An acceptable enough challenge. Very well."

And as the cannon discharges another round of ionized power, K.K. -charges- amidst the long-ranged weapon fire and magic, going -straight- for the source; their scythe swings, intent on CLEAVING through that crackle of electricity, letting it charge upon the metal of their weapon as they LEAP into the air.

"Come then! Break yourself upon my body!"

And -swing-.

DG: K.K. has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward their party's challenge, ADS-88 Walkure Defense Automaton.
================================<* Ash Hare *>================================
==============<* CHALLENGE - ADS-88 Walkure Defense Automaton *>==============
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The hallway before you is one of the wider ones of Ash Hare, and tall to      
 boot. As you step into it, the strange teal lights of the place shine down    
 on from their wall-mountings. A crackle runs through those lights, and then   
 shudders down the length of the room. Across the hallway from you, a large    
 circle opens up in the floor, and the screech of a metal elevator rising can  
 be heard.                                                                     
                                                                               
 A massive automaton, nearly three times the height of your average person,    
 rises out of it. One arm ends in a cannon; the other ends in a claw, which    
 crackles with lightning. The humanoid automaton takes a step forward, then    
 another, and the whole of the room shakes with each step.                     
                                                                               
 It lifts its claw arm -- and arcs of lightning explode out for you, before    
 it rushes into combat!                                                        
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound, Suffer============================================
===========================<* Ash Hare - Round 3 *>===========================
================< Results - ADS-88 Walkure Defense Automaton >================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Neriah Parringer                    20 --(15)--> 35                Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ambrosius                           25 --(20)--> 45                Fail
Deluge                              1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Millenia                            20 --(15)--> 35                Pass
Crossbow                            2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Iskandra Grendorre                  25 --(20)--> 45                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          20 --(20)--> 40                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Ragnell                      20 --(20)--> 40                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
K.K.                                20 --(20)--> 40                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Neriah Parringer            45 --(10)--> 55                Fail
Conditions: Suffer(1)|Wound(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Embolden(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Neriah Parringer has failed this challenge! The party gained 10 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Ambrosius gains a newfound respect for the technology-level of those responsible for constructing this ruin. The ADS-88 Walkure Defense Automaton is not to be taken lightly. The force arrayed before it consists of some of the most dangerous entities on the planet...and yet, somehow, it manages to weather the storm.

Ambrosius's shots land cleanly, and yet they only seem to land burns on the armor - armor that is thick and durable, turning away Iskandra's blade with ease.

It seems to focus on Riesenlied as she drinks the bottle Iskandra offered her, firing off a missile of its own to counter the one launched toward it.

Ragnell utilizes her Seraphic artes, impaling it in strategic locations with Thunder Spears...but it seems to absorb the electricity, harnessing it for a beam of lightning that is fired off from its claw toward K.K. as the White Knight charges for them.

It has weathered the assault, but not without taking damage. There is an opening in its armor, which Millenia takes advantage of. It is struck with a volley of flames and crossbow bolts, landing solidly and caving in its armor further.

And then, it pays the price for its own inflicted violence - Neriah turns its power back onto it, amplified by her dreadful power and directed toward the vulnerability everyone had managed to create. The machine recoils back, jitters a moment, and then seems to go still. But...

Ambrosius frowns, returning Veritas Varia to the interior of his poncho.

"...It will not be...offliiine...for long... We should hurry..." He murmurs, heading toward an opening on the other side of the machine.

DG: Iskandra Grendorre has drawn a new Challenge.
=================================<* Ash Hare *>=================================
===================<* CHALLENGE - Matter Transference Maze *>===================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The next chamber that you enter ends abruptly on a large, railed catwalk.     
 Two shimmering teal tiles are on the floor ahead. The rest of the room is a   
 pit, dropping down into sheer darkness below. There are, however, catwalks    
 and islands spread across the room -- and one on the opposite side. Each has  
 one or more glowing tiles on it.                                              
                                                                               
 When stepped upon, the tiles teleport a person to another catwalk -- and      
 sometimes one across the room. Clearly, finding the way to the other end      
 will take trial and error, and a great deal of patience.                      
=Dungeon Conditions: Tire, Bad Luck===========================================
<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

Still a bit beaten up, the group makes its way towards a catwalk. Iskandra has decided to take the lead for now, and is rewarded for her courage by being teleported onwards, causing mild disorientation until she figures out what happened. She takes a look around, and quickly notices many catwalks and many other teleport pods, it's going to be quite annoying to figure this out quickly.

Fortunately, she has a plan. She gets out a big bottle and a brush, and smears the bottom of her right foot with a strange, sticky red liquid. From there on, each step leaves behind a clear red footprint, indicating where she's been and which way she's been going. A confusing mess of a teleporter maze is still a maze.

DG: Iskandra Grendorre has used her Tool Alchemy Kit toward her party's challenge, Matter Transference Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Inhaling and refocusing herself after the effort of that spell, Neriah lowers her head just a touch. "...Yeah," she breathes with a glance at Ragnell. "Me and Millenia have... a lot in common."

Fortunately, the spell seems to have been enough. Giving the Walkure a wary look, Neriah takes off after Ambrosius, her gun clutched in her right hand. Notably, her pupils haven't dilated all that much - not like they usually do.

She seems a little unsettled - she's tense, at least. But this time, Neriah doesn't seem like she's about to lose control of herself, even after a relatively complex use of her powers.

Iskandra vanishes into the teleportation tile in front of her. With a gasp, Neriah screeches to a halt before touching the tile. "Whoa! That's pretty wild," she murmurs as she crouches beside the tile, pulling her excavator's lens out and setting it to one eye.

Neriah adjusts the lens, leaning forward to squint at the tile itself. "...There's a place where two of those panels don't come together flush," she murmurs as she just about presses her eyepiece to the tile, squinting to try to get a view.

"...All the circuits kind of filter down to a wire nest," she explains when she looks up and lowers the eyepiece. "The other one doesn't have the same kind of wiring. A lot less, actually. So if we stick to these ones...."

Neriah looks back at the others. "...we should be okay. Either that or I'm about to come back out of this thing with my head on upside down," she quips, before stepping onto the tile and proceeding to teleport.

DG: Neriah Parringer has used her Tool Excavator's Lens toward her party's challenge, Matter Transference Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied looks rather weary and expended after their close encounter with the dragon automaton -- the Dark Bottle's disappeared somewhere at this point, and she's beginning to cough as she seats herself on the chair of the Munitekal Armour's cockpit, letting Muni bobble ahead instead of herself.

"This was not here before... I suppose we took another route," she squints as she looks to Neriah with some concern. It was good that she was practicing... it showed that there was some way to control it.

She closes her eyes and holds onto the Dragon's Tear--

--and flat, platform-like versions of the typical barriers of light she creates in combat appear along the floor instead. "Here are some additional tiles for us to go through..."

DG: Riesenlied has used her Tool Dragon's Tear toward her party's challenge, Matter Transference Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Millenia has posed.

A bit miffed at the machine's audacity - indeed how dare it not just fall over dead - Millenia still follows when the party judges it best to hurry along, rather than remain behind to give that piece of scrap a stern talking to. She'll use the opportunity to grade Neriah, that'll be good conversation.

"Practice, hm? Is that how it works for you? You take abuse and dish it back tenfold? That's so limiting! No, no, this isn't right. You need to turn your ire outward from the word go! Focus your intense desire to see change and turn it into your weapon!"

A shield would come in handy, she muses, but she prefers the ability to blow things up over the ability to protect herself. If you could have both, though, how great that'd be.

Oh, a puzzle. She glances down at a glowing tile, bored. Or maybe, disinterested. She doesn't much like puzzles. There too she prefers the ability to blow things up.

"Well, you lovelies all seem to have this handled, so I'll just stand here and not get in the way."

She's so helpful and nice.

DG: Millenia has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Matter Transference Maze.
<Pose Tracker> K.K. has posed.

In the aftermath of the conflict with the automaton, K.K.'s armor smokes, scorched and dented here and there, but largely intact. As the Walkure falls offline, the knight seems to watch it for a moment, as if half-expecting, or perhaps hoping, for it to come to life again. When it does not? ... That scythe breaks apart into many flecks of light as K.K. dips their head.

"Well fought, drone. We shall cross blades again."

... It's truly impossible to tell whether or not they're disappointed that the Walkure didn't rouse in time for round two.

Regardless; words of parting respect offered for the soulless automaton, the Trial Knight marches forward, hands falling at their sides as they make their way into that new room. Their head tilts as Iskandra disappears -- and then reappears in an entirely different section of the room.

"Fascinating," they utter, tinny voice thoughtful. They take a single step forward --

And then disappear, reappearing elsewhere. And then they walk again, to another.

Apparently entirely intent on just marching forwards from transporter to transporter fearlessly as Neriah indicates without a worry in the world for the ramifications or even taking much time to consider the potential ways it could all backfire. It never really registers as a concern.

They do this sort of thing all the time, after all.

"... I wonder how many horses are necessary power a device such as this...?" they utter, perhaps fortunately, entirely to themselves, mid-teleport-step.

DG: K.K. has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward their party's challenge, Matter Transference Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Ambrosius takes a moment to look on cautiously toward Riesenlied, as she remains in the cockpit. He frowns slightly at her condition, but whatever concerns he has in mind don't leave his head. Instead he continues onward, into the chamber with the teleportation tiles.

He's no stranger to the technology, so he doesn't really give them a second glance as Neriah steps into one and disappears. Really, the largest concern was that they would be hooked up improperly. Also, actually finding one's way through. That was always a concern.

He moves through carefully, taking Neriah's advice to make finding the way forward easier. Hopefully.

DG: Ambrosius has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Matter Transference Maze.
==================================<* Ash Hare *>==================================
====================<* CHALLENGE - Matter Transference Maze *>====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The next chamber that you enter ends abruptly on a large, railed catwalk.     
 Two shimmering teal tiles are on the floor ahead. The rest of the room is a   
 pit, dropping down into sheer darkness below. There are, however, catwalks    
 and islands spread across the room -- and one on the opposite side. Each has  
 one or more glowing tiles on it.                                              
                                                                               
 When stepped upon, the tiles teleport a person to another catwalk -- and      
 sometimes one across the room. Clearly, finding the way to the other end      
 will take trial and error, and a great deal of patience.                      
=Dungeon Conditions: Tire, Bad Luck===========================================
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

"Oh, BULLSHIT!" Ragnell roars when the machine absorbs her artes, which is also her sentiment when the monstrosity punches a missile her way, nearly blowing her up. Despite this shout, she keeps her eyes on it, and her companions, searching for the next opening as she gets back to her feet, coughing. Neriah in particular uses her dark powers, and at last the machine goes still... She holsters her guns and straightens. "Guess it's best t' get while the gettin's' good," she says, shrugging at Ambrosius's advice. "Forward ho!"

And so she lets Iskandra take the lead. It's not long before the group finds itself in a teleportation maze. Along the way, Ragnell gives Neriah a sidelong glance at her remark on her and Millenia. "Hmmmm... I'm sure that's a fun story, if ya feel like sharin'," she remarks. "That's what we're here for anyway, yeah? T' find out more about your shit?"

She comes to a stop before the maze, gazing out at the network, watching Iskandra and listening to Neriah. She glances over at Riese when the Hyadean pipes up. "You've been here before, huh?" And then another glance at Millenia, who tells Neriah she should just explode stuff in the first place. Ragnell chuckles faintly, then looks back towards the maze. Others are working on actually working their way through, so...

Light glints off a piece of battered silver as Ragnell withdraws an old harmonica from her poncho. The tune she plays is soothing and relaxing and bittersweet and, most importantly, helps one focus on a task by sharpening the mind. It'll be good for the others who're actually working their way through the maze.

There's only a couple of sour notes, coincidentally right after K.K. wonders to themself about horses and power, as if Ragnell couldn't *quite* hold in a laugh. Otherwise, it's a lovely melody.

DG: Seraph Ragnell has used her Tool Tarnished Harmonica toward her party's challenge, Matter Transference Maze.
=================================<* Ash Hare *>=================================
===================<* CHALLENGE - Matter Transference Maze *>===================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The next chamber that you enter ends abruptly on a large, railed catwalk.     
 Two shimmering teal tiles are on the floor ahead. The rest of the room is a   
 pit, dropping down into sheer darkness below. There are, however, catwalks    
 and islands spread across the room -- and one on the opposite side. Each has  
 one or more glowing tiles on it.                                              
                                                                               
 When stepped upon, the tiles teleport a person to another catwalk -- and      
 sometimes one across the room. Clearly, finding the way to the other end      
 will take trial and error, and a great deal of patience.                      
=Dungeon Conditions: Tire, Bad Luck===========================================
============================<* Ash Hare - Round 4 *>============================
=====================< Results - Matter Transference Maze >=====================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Neriah Parringer                    35 --(5)--> 40                 Pass
Excavator's Lens                    2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ambrosius                           45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Millenia                            35 --(5)--> 40                 Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Iskandra Grendorre                  45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Alchemy Kit                         2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          40 --(5)--> 45                 Pass
Dragon's Tear                       1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Ragnell                      40 --(5)--> 45                 Pass
Tarnished Harmonica                 2   Wits    Effects: Stalwart             
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
K.K.                                40 --(5)--> 45                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Neriah Parringer            55 --(20)--> 75                Pass
Conditions: Bad Luck(2)|Tire(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Enlighten(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Neriah Parringer has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

Neriah finds some good clues to narrow down potential paths to follow, Riese provides a short-cut that saves them a couple particularly annoying twists and turns. K.K. through what is perhaps more luck than skill manages to find a loop in the teleport maze that allows that short-cut to be even more useful by going in the opposite direction, Ambrosius finds a useful direction to go, Ragnell helps everyone focus, and all that combines with Iskandra's paint to find an efficient route through the maze.

Millenia is entirely unhelpful, but it's fine.

DG: Neriah Parringer has drawn a new Challenge.
==================================<* Ash Hare *>==================================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Memory Analysis Spike *>======================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The next door leads into a medical facility. Rows of empty sickbeds can be    
 found here, with cabinets, chairs, and consoles that doctors were meant to    
 use. A large storage closet is located in the back of the room. Robotic       
 arms, containing a variety of medical tools, hang from the ceiling -- likely  
 meant to assist in caring for the patients here. The entire room is spotless  
 and seemingly unused, though eerily clean. Even thousands of years later,     
 this room has stayed sterile.                                                 
                                                                               
 As you enter, though, one of your party is quite unfortunate. A large arm     
 swings down and slams a lengthy syringe directly into one of your necks.      
 Lights on the arm begin to pulse -- and the afflicted person has the strange  
 and terrifying sensation of having their memories activated, bringing to      
 mind particular individuals of import from their background. Lights on the    
 arm flash, and a beeping can be heard from it -- and from a station on the    
 wall.                                                                         
                                                                               
 The arm needs to be removed, quickly but carefully. While the syringe is not  
 lethal, it could be disastrous if the arm is removed carelessly.              
                                                                               
 OOC: It is strongly recommended that the person who is stabbed GM the next    
 card.                                                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous, Injure======================================
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"Well, it's always hurt me," Neriah admits as she and Millenia warp from place to place. "Actually, until my friend Ginny went dream-walking with me, even using the power at all felt like I was gonna die. So I guess it's always felt like I was taking the pain I suffered and turning it against people who wanted to hurt me."

Another teleport, and she's glancing at Ragnell with an anxious little smile. "Yeah... that's the idea. I want to see if that arm will hit me again... so I can try and find those memories again."

Indeed, when the teleporter drops them off, Neriah's newly-focused - and her eyes flicker with intent as she begins to move into the room they find themselves in.

A sterile medical bay. No sound of motion beyond that which the small group of hellions, demons and Riesenlieds make is truly heard, beyond the very faint, distant buzz of an electronic current, even then more felt than heard. Along the rows of empty sick beds the dark-haired girl moves. She slips her hat from her head and sets it on one of the beds beside her, drawing in a breath and paling slightly as her senses recoil at the antiseptic smell of the place.

"This was the room where it happened," she says, her voice quiet, echoing subtly against polished pseudometal as it reaches the walls. Looking towards the ceiling, she locates a nest of mechanical arms hanging, inert, above her.

Slowly, Neriah draws the shovel from its place on her back. She comes up on her toes, using the blade to nudge at a couple of the arms. "Come down," she urges. "Come. Come down. C'mon." Scowling, she nudges it again. "C'mon, stab me. C'mon. Ugh. C'mon."

As she's nudging the arm nest, something silently begins to unfold from further up. It's another mechanical arm. A set of three sub-arms unfolds from atop it, each one ending in powerful clamps. The main arm holds a long syringe. Something drips from it menacingly.

Neriah doesn't see it. She prods at the arms above her. "C'mon. C'mon. Get stabbin'. Get stabbin'. C'mon--"

With a mechanical hiss, the arm behind her shoots in. Those three clamps latch on, one about her neck and two to either side of her head. Her eyes go empty as the needle slips neatly into the back of her skull and finds just the right angle to slide into her brainstem.

The girl's eyes widen and the shovel drops out of her hands - but there's something lucid in her eyes as they begin to dart back and forth. Memories begin to flood through her mind--

"Don't hurt me," sobs the girl as the men with ARMs surround her. One of them is aiming a weapon at her head, insisting that he give her all her gella. Gella that 13-year-old Neriah, still a girl and with no weapons to her name, does not have. In the distance, she can hear the pounding of hooves against sand. Help, or something else? One of the men advances on her.

Her right hand hurts. It hurts more than it ever has. She opens her mouth, and screams as the pain consumes her and threatens to tear her apart, as something erupts out of her she's never felt before:

"::::::::: "

"It's happening," Neriah breathes aloud, her voice high and pinched, almost like a panic she was barely reining in. "It's happening. I see it--"

She twitches violently a few times, then lets out a sharp cry as the needle digs in just a little deeper.

But there is more to see, isn't there, daughter of Arius?

DG: Neriah Parringer has used her Tool Trusty Shovel toward her party's challenge, Memory Analysis Spike.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied quiets down with a sad expression as she lets Muni march along, listening to Neriah's story. She hesitates a little as Ragnell, before nodding to express, "I was here to investigate this base with some allies. This is a base of operations that Kislev utilises for some of their military operations..." A deeper frown, for a moment, as she expresses to Neriah, "Please-- stay safe when you use that device..."

She has to hop off Muni once they get to the bay, since it's just... too small for her. "Shh... just stay outside, we'll be right there."

She feels a pang of fear as she looks towards the room, remembering what happened the last time. The lab coats, the experiments... just what was it that Maya experienced in her life? She doesn't understand...

Her eyes widen as the arm looms above them, cupping her mouth. She wants to stop this, but she knows she shouldn't... should she? "Ah--!"

Her eyes widen as the clamps latch on, and winces. "N-Neriah, it--" She flinches, and nervously reaches not for the Tear, this time...

"Enough!"

She pulls out an ornate flute with a feathered tassel, and plays a soft, short melody on it.

...

... ...

Nothing happens...

... ... ....

There's a 'THOOM', along the back wall, and then a louder 'THOOOOM' that shakes the ground slowly--

--and then a giant cucco bursts through of the back medical bay wall. "Cucco! Break that arm before it hurts Neriah any more!"

The giant cucco stares towards the arm, and heaves its head back...

DG: Riesenlied has used her Tool Flute of the Cucco Queen toward her party's challenge, Memory Analysis Spike.
<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

Iskandra knew exactly what was coming, and is ready to stabilize Neriah when someone summons a giant cucco. "This was the entire point of getting here." She warns Riesenlied, taking out a clay jar with a long rope that smells of gunpowder attached to it, and menacingly standing in between the giant cucco and Neriah. "She wanted to get stabbed, to experience this properly. You're not going to intervene unless absolutely necessary." She insists, quite vehemently.

DG: Iskandra Grendorre has used her Tool Bomb toward her party's challenge, Memory Analysis Spike.
<Pose Tracker> K.K. has posed.

The sterility of this room is perhaps the most immediately noticeable thing about it, as the Trial Knight is ushered in past that discorporation and reassembling of molecules. They take the process well in stride as they look about them with that faceless mask of their horned helm, hands clasping behind their back as they step further inward.

Sterile. After all this time, it's still managed to stay so clean. It's unnatural. Like the entire facility has eked out just enough existence to purge any trace of inconsistency and impurity. One finger wrapped in polished, pure metal presses upon a counter top, dragging upon its surface and accumulating nothing in the effort.

They say nothing. Their thoughts their own, the knight turns their unseen gaze upon Neriah as impatience grapples at her expression. They offer no advice. No warnings. No considerate words. They just wait.

And as the needle jabs, they watch in that implacable way as memories flood Neriah's brain and spark the wild panic of her twitching eyes.

They do not move. They do not attempt to stop the process, even as the needle starts to threaten Neriah in more obvious, physical ways. And when it grows to be too much...

Without a word, they reach out to their right; within their hand, motes of light coagulating into the form of an immense, white and gold hammer held aloft within a single palm.

And yet still they do not attempt to destroy the machinery. They do not attempt to save Neriah. They do not react.

They just hold out that massive hammer to their side, and wait.

Almost expectantly.

DG: K.K. has used their Tool Where Did You Get That Hammer toward their party's challenge, Memory Analysis Spike.
<Pose Tracker> Millenia has posed.

Weird syringe arms are beyond Millenia's knowledge.

She just knows one thing, and it's that Neriah desired this. She's happy enough watching until she starts feeling like it's more risk than it's worth.

Riese steps in, on cue.

"I think I'll have to side with this one!" she says, meaning Iskandra, "This isn't dangerous yet. Little Nerry can take a bit more punishment than that! In fact, she wanted this! Let's make sure she gets the full treatment, doctor's orders~!"

A finger extends, and a bolt of dark lightning shoots out towards the mechanical arm! There's nothing right about that power, and if the darkness won't take hold the lightning might put it into overdrive anyway.

DG: Millenia has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Memory Analysis Spike.
==================================<* Ash Hare *>==================================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Memory Analysis Spike *>======================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The next door leads into a medical facility. Rows of empty sickbeds can be    
 found here, with cabinets, chairs, and consoles that doctors were meant to    
 use. A large storage closet is located in the back of the room. Robotic       
 arms, containing a variety of medical tools, hang from the ceiling -- likely  
 meant to assist in caring for the patients here. The entire room is spotless  
 and seemingly unused, though eerily clean. Even thousands of years later,     
 this room has stayed sterile.                                                 
                                                                               
 As you enter, though, one of your party is quite unfortunate. A large arm     
 swings down and slams a lengthy syringe directly into one of your necks.      
 Lights on the arm begin to pulse -- and the afflicted person has the strange  
 and terrifying sensation of having their memories activated, bringing to      
 mind particular individuals of import from their background. Lights on the    
 arm flash, and a beeping can be heard from it -- and from a station on the    
 wall.                                                                         
                                                                               
 The arm needs to be removed, quickly but carefully. While the syringe is not  
 lethal, it could be disastrous if the arm is removed carelessly.              
                                                                               
 OOC: It is strongly recommended that the person who is stabbed GM the next    
 card.                                                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous, Injure======================================
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

There is, of course, also an Ambrosius. He's been very quiet so far, unable to even see one member of their party. It's hard to tell if he understands just what kind of unusual party he's been involved in this time, but even so he continues.

The medical facility that the teleporter maze leads to is a familiar sight. It does not appear to be the same one, as he does not see the arm that he had dismantled last time. He supposes that it is possible it has been repaired, but...

Either way, Neriah soon gets what it is she wants - the arm finds her and injects her. He stands by, quietly and impassively, even as she lets out a cry.

And then...Riesenlied plays her flute, and summons a cucco. Ambrosius...well, he's honestly not surprised. He had a feeling she might do this. She was never one to simply stand by when someone was getting hurt.

He doesn't do anything, though. Just reaches up...and places a hand on her shoulder. Both to try and hold her back and reassure her.

He can invoke an Aqua Cutter to try and sever the mechanical arm holding Neriah, but he will only do so when the time is right.

DG: Ambrosius has used his Tool Aqua Cutter toward his party's challenge, Memory Analysis Spike.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

"Hmmmm," Ragnell murmurs, looking sidelong at Neriah. She does note that Neriah fails to mention anything about herself and Millenia--but, well, that's fine. Ragnell knows how it is.

The group of them make it through the teleportation maze. Riese explains about having explored the base with some allies. "Oh, this is a Kislev thing?" she utters, eyebrows going up. "Interestin'. I didn't know that. I'll have to remember that in the future." She looks around at the room in question. Sterile is... yeah. That's the word. Not a mote of dust, as K.K. finds. She watches as Neriah pokes a shovel at metal arms, begging it to stab her; behind her, a different set of arms begins to moves. Since this seems to be the result Neriah wants, Ragnell doesn't bother to warn her, instead opting to watch as events play out. Neriah's eyes unfocus, and she speaks, saying she sees something, twitching and crying out...

Then Riese, bless her soft heart, decides enough is enough and plays a summoning song. "Enough? Enough o' what? Neri literally said she *wanted* it to shoot her up," Ragnell points out. "Stoppin' it now would mean wastin' the time an' effort we all made in comin' in he--" BOOM. A giant cucco busts the fuck in, and Riese tells it to break the arm. Ragnell palms her forehead. "Riese, no, like I was sayin', do we *need* to bust up that arm thing? I--oh, cool, this was predictable." This is in response to Iskandra intimating violent force in response to Riesenlied's concern-summoning. Millenia takes her side, and so does Ambrosius, albeit in a rather more gentle, diplomatic way. K.K. meanwhile summons a giant hammer and holds it out at their side, perhaps expectantly. Ragnell glances at them, then chuckles... and takes the hammer for herself.

"S'been a while since I handled one a' these," she reflects, holding up the hammer colored white, blue, and gold. She hefts it carefully onto her shoulder, one gloved hand keeping it balanced, and saunters up to Neriah. She looks her and the mechanoid arms both drugging her and holding her in place; then she adjusts the hammer so she holds it in both hands.

"Say 'when,'" she drawls. Once Neriah indicates she's ready, she'll take a swing towards those restraints. Until then, she'll keep on waiting--for, as Ambrosius noted, when the time is right.

DG: Seraph Ragnell has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Memory Analysis Spike.
==================================<* Ash Hare *>==================================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Memory Analysis Spike *>======================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The next door leads into a medical facility. Rows of empty sickbeds can be    
 found here, with cabinets, chairs, and consoles that doctors were meant to    
 use. A large storage closet is located in the back of the room. Robotic       
 arms, containing a variety of medical tools, hang from the ceiling -- likely  
 meant to assist in caring for the patients here. The entire room is spotless  
 and seemingly unused, though eerily clean. Even thousands of years later,     
 this room has stayed sterile.                                                 
                                                                               
 As you enter, though, one of your party is quite unfortunate. A large arm     
 swings down and slams a lengthy syringe directly into one of your necks.      
 Lights on the arm begin to pulse -- and the afflicted person has the strange  
 and terrifying sensation of having their memories activated, bringing to      
 mind particular individuals of import from their background. Lights on the    
 arm flash, and a beeping can be heard from it -- and from a station on the    
 wall.                                                                         
                                                                               
 The arm needs to be removed, quickly but carefully. While the syringe is not  
 lethal, it could be disastrous if the arm is removed carelessly.              
                                                                               
 OOC: It is strongly recommended that the person who is stabbed GM the next    
 card.                                                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous, Injure======================================
=============================<* Ash Hare - Round 5 *>=============================
=======================< Results - Memory Analysis Spike >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Neriah Parringer                    40 --(10)--> 50                Fail
Trusty Shovel                       2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ambrosius                           50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Aqua Cutter                         3   Brute   Effects: Fanfare              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Millenia                            40 --(5)--> 45                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Iskandra Grendorre                  50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Bomb                                3   Brute   Effects: Fanfare              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Flute of the Cucco Queen            1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Ragnell                      45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
K.K.                                45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Where Did You Get That Hammer       2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Neriah Parringer            75 --(0)--> 75                 Pass
Conditions: Injure(2)|Overzealous(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Strengthen(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >=================================
DG: The party led by Neriah Parringer has passed this challenge! The party gained 0 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Neriah Parringer has drawn a new Challenge.
==================================<* Ash Hare *>==================================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Second Stage Einherjar *>=====================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The arm is removed, but the danger has not yet passed.                        
                                                                               
 A large panel in the wall opens and mist spills out. A humanoid form steps    
 forward, silhouetted by the mist, and it lurches and shakes. It is slate      
 grey and color, and featureless -- but the unmistakable look of musculature   
 can be seen underneath its skin. This is something organic, yet not quite     
 natural. It looks up, and looks directly at the one who had been spiked.      
                                                                               
 And then, dark purple lines of circuitry light up across its body in          
 intricate patterns. Its flesh twists and shifts, forming a mockery of a       
 person remembered by the individual struck by the spike. In silhouette, they  
 resemble them -- and inky black and purple Ether form, creating weapons and   
 magics that might resemble how this remembered person would have fought. The  
 simulacrum opens its mouth, and screams a wordless cry.                       
                                                                               
 Then, it leaps in to ravage and attack.                                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

She can see a thousand faces.

Arianny Parringer, smiling a kind smile.

Her grandfather, Arris Priest. Her mom's dad. She's seen him only in faded old photos in mom's photo album.

A man she does not know, with a strong jaw and a rough smile.

Another man she has never met. Older.

A dark-haired, sad-eyed man she does not recognize.

A cold-eyed man with hair and eyes like hers. Staring into her.

The sound of chains clinking together.

The chains of mercy.

The chains of THE SEVEN.

As Neriah shudders violently and screams as the needle probes memories she doesn't remember living, Iskandra Grendorre makes the mistake of confronting a Cucco.

The bird clucks indignantly and flaps its way into the medical arm anyway, smashing through much of the mount above it.

Which is about when Millenia pumps a little touch of something horrible into the arm. The dark power pours along the needle and absorbs itself into Neriah.

Instantly, the girl's pupil's dilate, and a horrible, heart-curdling sensation begins to rise as her magic roils within her. The needle digs into her brainstem even deeper. More memories spill through her mind.

A thousand shards of stained glass are strewn across the floor. The remains of marble columns crumble through the remnants of the chamber. Her robes drip blood as she looks up at the man before her.

The silver-haired Baskar man, the hovering shape of a robed and cycloptic wraith hovering before him. There is a peculiar sadness in the gaze of the shaman as he lifts a strong hand. She can see his lips beginning to move. She does not understand the words. She does not know the face.

She does not remember this.

He remembers this all too well.

But the Cucco will not be denied. Perturbed by the bomb, it calls out - and through the hole in the wall, more cuccos fly. They flock through the hole in a vast, feathery white wave, swarming across the machinery and smashing it. A few even peck at Iskandra.

The arm is arcing with something other than darkness at this point. Electricity lashes across it and shoots across Neriah. The scream she lets out is high and agonized. "GET IT OUT GET IT OUT GET IT OUT," she shrieks, clawing at the back of her skull as blood begins to pour down the back of her neck. "GET IT OUT GET IT OUT GET IT OUT GET IT OUT!!!"

Ambrosius, quiet and stolid, is close enough to help. A quick Aqua Cutter slices through the mechanical arm, before Ragnell steps in to extract it.

The arm clatters to the ground, forgotten.

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.


Blood trickles from the back of Neriah's head - even a couple of drops of something that might be plasma. Groaning, she slouches to the ground, crumpling to her knees. The girl's unresponsive, just shaking and holding her hands to her head. For a moment, there's silence.

And then, a hiss of something beginning to vent into the room - and an electric whirr as a panel opens up.

Extruding from the far wall, wreathed in chemical haze, a barely-distinguishable shape slides forward. It's human enough at a glance. Only when the haze begins to clear, though, is what it is evident.

A completely featureless, doll-like shape, glossy grey and inhumanly plastic. Neriah nearly gags at the uncanny sight of it - but her eyes widen as lines of vivid teal lance to life across it, glowing coolly.

That light shifts as the grey plasticine shape begins to warp and refine itself - and the teal shifts to electric purple.

Ether twists that grey flesh and tints it. But the person who emerges is not one Neriah remembers. In fact it's not anyone familiar - at least, not to the various ne'er-do-wells gathered here. The man taking shape is tall - at least six foot four - and broad-shouldered, in a loose poncho and tasseled leather pants. Draped over his shoulders is a double band like an untied pallium, blue with a gold border. The design in the centre of his poncho forms a single eye. It's clear enough that he's Baskar, at least 45, with silver hair swept back, a lined and sunkissed face, and dark eyes lined at the corners.

In truth, aside from the long sickle he's leveling, he doesn't seem all that awful.

The Shaman of Ge Ramtos plants his heel, locks eyes on Neriah, and sweeps the sickle through the air - and a vast arc of phantom light, shimmering in ghostly white, slashes through the chamber, tearing away machinery and shredding biobeds. The resonance of the magic is clearly artificial; Neriah gasps, barely managing to throw her shield up enough to guard against it, her eyes wild with confusion and some horror she can't verbalize.

The artificial Shaman quickly pivots, moving to hurl more ghostlight arcs towards the others in the group. They'll come together with vast sweeps of that sickle - interspersed with spells which threaten to sap one's life force and drain it off. At one point he even attempts to try and turn K.K. to stone.

DG: Neriah Parringer has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Second Stage Einherjar.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied certainly does have a different idea of the level of acceptable pain, and perhaps she should've specified with Neriah before they came in... but the response everyone is giving to her causes her to flinch and step back a little, glancing aside with a stricken look of concern.

She feels Ambrosius' hand upon her, as she whips her head towards her.

"M-Mister Ambrosius..."

The giant cucco doesn't appear to be that concerned about bombs being menaced in its direction, like, maybe, a young blonde boy in green tights hucking bombs at it is just a normal facet of its ordinary everyday life.

The Great Sea Region is weird.

She glances to Ragnell as she comments how it's been a while for her... she winces just for a moment, as she glances towards Ragnell. "... just-- just--"

She puts her hand to her face, with a fearful sigh as she glances towards Neriah. She'll have to trust her, but... what if it is too much...? Was she really getting in the way of Neriah finding out the truth?

But then-- Neriah starts shouting and screaming, and she expresses, "That-- that's enough, cucco, please...!" She cringes and closes her eyes, cupping her mouth and stepping backwards as the giant cucco crashes against the arm regardless of what Iskandra and Ragnell are stating. She's prboably going to take flak for this, but--

--then she hurries to Neriah's side and concentrates on the Tear, trying to soothe her agony and injury... before staring towards the featureless doll-like shape. This happened the last time she was here too, and manifested a creature from Maya's memories... and manifests into a Shaman. A Baskar...

"...hold on, Neriah..." She winces and-- closes her eyes, holding her hand up and manifesting a barrier of light that attempts to block off the effects of the ghostly magic, prompting her to cup her mouth and cough as she feels her life draining away.

Fortunately, help is on hand, because the cucco just...

...rolls sideways in an attempt to squish the shaman.

DG: Riesenlied has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Second Stage Einherjar.
<Pose Tracker> Millenia has posed.

Did Neriah bite more than she can chew? Millenia seems more amused than distressed. She's sure whatever power lurks inside her is sturdy enough to take this much punishment. And if Neriah dies or turns into a vegetable, she'll just eat her. Some problems just fix themselves, you know? Why worry about it!

"Well, I sure hope that was fruitful. This doesn't look like anything to me though, so let's put it out of its misery and get to the good part!" The good part is where Neriah explains what happened, hopefully.

The Shaman warrants taking the fight seriously - Millenia weaves between blows, trying not to end up cut apart by the phantom slices. One might wonder what terrible power the Wings of Valmar might unleash on someone they really want to kill.

As Millenia moves into melee range, there's an answer, moments before the Cucco starts rolling. She attempts to plant one of her heels straight into the Shaman's crotch, and then slings several crossbow bolts into its chest to push it in the wrathful chicken's warpath.

DG: Millenia has used her Tool Crossbow toward her party's challenge, Second Stage Einherjar.
<Pose Tracker> K.K. has posed.

As the hammer leaves K.K.'s grasp with that bit of nostalgic commentary from the Lightning Seraph, the Trial Knight says nothing; fingers spasm mildly within the confines of that polished white gauntlet, and they watch Ragnell as she goes.

Then, and only then, does K.K.'s attention turn back towards Neriah, just as electricity and something foul and dark laces its way through that mechanical arm and into Neriah's brain. The sensation of it -- that thing that Millenia channels -- is a familiar one to keen spiritual senses. It piques curiosity, but does not divert the weight of their stare, settled wholly upon Neriah's shoulders. She screams out, the cry blood-curdling. GET IT OUT GET IT OUT GET IT OUT. She claws at her skull, tears at her flesh.

The Trial Knight does not move.

There is no direct intervention on the part of the knight at all -- not until that arm has been cut off, not until it has been knocked free -- not until the needle is removed...

... and a gray form begins to mold itself like from a vial of liquid plastic cooked into a mould of memories.

A middle-aged man with a sickle. A poncho, not entirely unlike Ragnell's.

By most accounts, he does not look hostile.

But an account told by unfathomable experience leads white light to flare at the Trial Knight's palms.

The tip of a radiant spear is hefted and -thrusted- the man's way just as the Shaman prepares for his first assault. K.K. does not hesitate. Does not try to ask questions. Does not second guess. The second they see the man, the Trial Knight is already pressing an offensive, using the reach of their spear to maintain distance expertly between themself and the sharpened interior curve of the memory-molded Baskar's weapon. The first blow deflects off the edge of the sickle. Clawed fingers wrap tightly around that white haft.

"What is a memory?"

The question hangs unanswered in the air as the Shaman weaves his petrifying magic, seconds before K.K. lunges, spear tip thrust straight for the center of his chest.

DG: K.K. has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward their party's challenge, Second Stage Einherjar.
<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Ambrosius doesn't say anything. He just looks at Riesenlied quietly for a moment, meeting her eyes for the first time on this journey. And then, when Neriah shouts at them to remove it, he steps aside and conjures an Aqua Cutter, sending it flying through the arm. He had expected it to be that easy, but...

...Then it does something he didn't expect.

Something starts to emerge from the machine. It did not do this last time he was here, so it takes him off guard. Did he manage to dismantle the arm before it was capable of producing...this, last time?

Whatever the case, the figure - almost as tall as he is, in fact - quickly proves itself to be a threat, bearing a deadly sickle and dangerous magic.

Ambrosius draws his revolver in one hand and unloads on the Shaman simulacrum, his other working his Etheric sorcery to try and combat and undo that which the enemy was using against them.

He does not pay attention to Neriah at the moment. He trusts Riesenlied to be looking after her, anyway.

DG: Ambrosius has used his Tool Deluge toward his party's challenge, Second Stage Einherjar.
==================================<* Ash Hare *>==================================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Second Stage Einherjar *>=====================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The arm is removed, but the danger has not yet passed.                        
                                                                               
 A large panel in the wall opens and mist spills out. A humanoid form steps    
 forward, silhouetted by the mist, and it lurches and shakes. It is slate      
 grey and color, and featureless -- but the unmistakable look of musculature   
 can be seen underneath its skin. This is something organic, yet not quite     
 natural. It looks up, and looks directly at the one who had been spiked.      
                                                                               
 And then, dark purple lines of circuitry light up across its body in          
 intricate patterns. Its flesh twists and shifts, forming a mockery of a       
 person remembered by the individual struck by the spike. In silhouette, they  
 resemble them -- and inky black and purple Ether form, creating weapons and   
 magics that might resemble how this remembered person would have fought. The  
 simulacrum opens its mouth, and screams a wordless cry.                       
                                                                               
 Then, it leaps in to ravage and attack.                                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Iskandra Grendorre has posed.

There's lots of good fighters for Iskandra to hide behind. So rather than go to the front and deal with it, she throws a dark bottle towards K.K. Yelling, "Drink this, quick." Then she follows that up by casting a spell. Iskandra doesn't use magic a lot, and when she does it's usually full of malevolence, but this time it's different.

This time, she's opening a bottle of distilled water and turning it into a thin mist that spreads around the group, providing a mild regenerative effect and simultaneously cleansing any detrimental effects and protecting against more.

DG: Iskandra Grendorre has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Second Stage Einherjar.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

Neriah screams to get the needle out of her. Things were already going to hell, so it's just as well that Ambrosius and Ragnell act. The Seraph backs away once the deed is done, back far enough to give Riese space to rush up to Neriah and heal her, enough to hand the lovely hammer back to K.K., but doesn't remove her eyes from Neriah--or from Riesenlied, who promptly goes into a coughing fit as she uses her powers.

"Huh," Ragnell utters, gazing down at Neriah as she collapses with blood and other fluids leaking out of her. "Think she's dead? That'd be a disappointment."

A hiss, and a whirr. Ragnell looks up to see a humanoid shape emerge from a wall with a chemical haze. She frowns, raising her hands to the butts of her pistols but not yet drawing them. That doesn't come until after teal has shifted to purple and the metalloid puppet has morphed into... someone.

"Who the hell is that?" Ragnell wonders, just before he sweeps his sickle through the air. It shears through air, beds, and machinery alike, and Ragnell dives to the floor in a forward roll before it can shear through her too. She comes up on one knee and so do her twin pistols, with which she opens fire on the humanoid puppet, providing support for Millenia and K.K. alike as one weaves between blows and plants one on the puppet to shove it into the cucco's path, and the other dives straight towards the enemy before it even attacks, aiming a brilliant spear for its chest.

Ragnell smiles at the sight of it. But then, she's always enjoyed a good fight--even if she, like Iskandra, is currently occupying the back row.

DG: Seraph Ragnell has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Second Stage Einherjar.
==================================<* Ash Hare *>==================================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Second Stage Einherjar *>=====================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The arm is removed, but the danger has not yet passed.                        
                                                                               
 A large panel in the wall opens and mist spills out. A humanoid form steps    
 forward, silhouetted by the mist, and it lurches and shakes. It is slate      
 grey and color, and featureless -- but the unmistakable look of musculature   
 can be seen underneath its skin. This is something organic, yet not quite     
 natural. It looks up, and looks directly at the one who had been spiked.      
                                                                               
 And then, dark purple lines of circuitry light up across its body in          
 intricate patterns. Its flesh twists and shifts, forming a mockery of a       
 person remembered by the individual struck by the spike. In silhouette, they  
 resemble them -- and inky black and purple Ether form, creating weapons and   
 magics that might resemble how this remembered person would have fought. The  
 simulacrum opens its mouth, and screams a wordless cry.                       
                                                                               
 Then, it leaps in to ravage and attack.                                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound====================================================
=============================<* Ash Hare - Round 6 *>=============================
=======================< Results - Second Stage Einherjar >=======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Neriah Parringer                    50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ambrosius                           55 --(5)--> 60                 Pass
Deluge                              1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Millenia                            45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Crossbow                            2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Iskandra Grendorre                  55 --(10)--> 65                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          50 --(10)--> 60                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Ragnell                      50 --(10)--> 60                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
K.K.                                50 --(10)--> 60                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Neriah Parringer            75 --(35)--> 110               Pass
Conditions: Overzealous(1)|Wound(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Embolden(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >=================================
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Neriah Parringer has successfully explored Ash Hare!
==================================<* Ash Hare *>==================================
==========================<* CHALLENGE - Power Cells *>===========================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The storage closet contains, among various and sundry goods, a few canisters  
 that act as power cells for Zeboim-era technology. These cells were also      
 repurposed and used to power many Metal Demon Wars-era ARMs, and thus there   
 is quite a market for these cells. Of course, they should be handled          
 carefully; the substances inside of them are quite caustic.                   
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Neriah can't keep her shield up all that coherently right now; it collapses in short order. Fortunately, Riesenlied is there, and a ghostlight arc crashes against that light barricade, straining it violently but not penetrating.

It helps. Neriah curls towards Riese a bit with a thin groan, trying to push herself up on one knee. She lifts her head, her pale blue eyes fixed on the mind-born Shaman. "I... saw him," she breathes, looking up at Riese.

Millennia closes to melee range, but the shaman isn't so easily heeled in the groin. Recoiling backwards, he lunges out of the way, though the crossbow bolts do hit their mark, one slamming into his side.

Which is about when the Cucco rolls over like some kind of Snorlax. The Shaman clenches his teeth and rolls off to one side, but not before the Cucco clips him hard enough to send him spinning away.

The Shaman lets fly with another sweeping crescent of phantom magic, smashing more hospital beds and attempting to catch Ambrosius - but the Veruni lands a solid hit, both with gun and bullet, knocing the artificial warrior backwards. Even as Iskandra's mist floods about to bolster the party, Ragnell scores with a few quick shots. Bullet holes punch into the shaman's chest and out his back as he gurgles and staggers backwards.

Then, leveling a hand, he begins to chant something - and a ghostly shape begins to materialize above him. Only something cold and artificial can be sensed - but whatever is driving this simulacrum is attempting to replicate a Material summon of Ge Ramtos.

...A replication which asks too much of the technology. The hazy figure disintegrates even before it can form - and through that window, the Trial Knight hurls that radiant spear.

What is a memory?

It's currently impaled on a polearm, collapsing to the ground and losing cohesion, and finally melting back into an ill-defined grey lump of plastic man, unmoving.

Neriah looks on from Riese's side, her face pale. "I... don't know who he is," she admits to Ragnell, her eyes still wide and only partially focused. "But I saw him. I saw him in memories. But they weren't...."

She blinks slowly. "...They were memories I don't remember having," she murmurs. "Like I was someone else... like I was... like I was NUMBER ONE. The first one I see in my nightmares."

<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Ambrosius recoils back as the simulacrum begins to do something terrible. It attempts to summon a Guardian. He quickly reloads Conversator and aims again...but it seems he needn't worry. The summoning fails, and the Trial Knight skewers the copy, putting a swift end to it.

Quietly, Ambrosius returns the weapon to his poncho and straightens up. Neriah begins speaking and he turns her attention to her, taking in her words quietly.

'Number One'...he was not entirely sure who that was, but they sounded important. Ambrosius does not speak, nor does he move to approach her. He lets the others do that.

<Pose Tracker> K.K. has posed.

That Dark Potion is empty by the time the spear is thrust.

It's best not to wonder what happened to the contents.

*SHUNK*

The tip of a white and gold-laced spear drives into the metal earth so hard the flooring sunders beneath the sharpened momentum of that thrust. And as the Shaman burbles, as the memories bleed away from him, the Trial Knight watches until only that faceless facade remains.

They do not bother to remove the spear when they pivot upon their heel, white cloth whipping behind them with the motion; the weapon merely dissolves like it had never been. Another forgotten memory.

Within the room they stalk quietly, even as Neriah recounts memories they aren't hers, images not from her past that flooded her thoughts. They crouch near an opening at the edge of the room, placing hands upon a container. As it hisses open, revealing the wealth of strange, technological canisters beneath, gauntleted fingers drag curiously down those chilled surfaces.

"History oft refuses to be forgotten," they utter, as if about those power cells; those words, however, have much more pressing relevancy to certain others here, plagued with memories.

"It lingers and influences those that come after, like spectres upon the fringes between past and present. Refusing to go quietly to the night. Refusing to give up the shreds of immortality they desperately yearn for. So does the previous generation seed the next."

Fingertips drift away from those power cells. The knight lifts, and turns, to disappear deeper into, curioser, into this lost chamber that yet refuses to be forgotten. To let anything be forgotten.

"What you see is legacy, Neriah Perringer."

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

An attempt to summon a Guardian... Having finally mastered the use of her own Medium, Ragnell recognizes it when she sees it. It's quite fascinating, really, and she pauses for a moment to see if this thing can actually manage it. But it can't, and it takes a spear to the chest for its troubles. Ragnell straightens, holstering her guns, and sets a hand on her hip as she looks over at Neriah.

She saw that man in memories, but not memories she remembers ever having. Huh. "What's this Number One, Number Whatever thing about, anyway?" she asks.

The Trial Knight goes on the prowl. Ragnell turns her head to watch them as they open a container, revealing strange canisters. In the corner of her eye, the spear dissolves into motes of light... but that's normal. Not even worth paying attention to. She instead heeds K.K.'s words and ruminations--and when they head deeper into the chamber, she follows.

"Best t' make the most of it, then, eh?" she adds, a punctuation on the Trial Knight's commentary on legacy.

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Lifting her head, Neriah looks up to Ambrosius, then to Ragnell, her voice a little softer. "I see seven dead people in my dreams all the time," she murmurs. "Always with voices screaming the number 'seven' over and over again, and usually with Ge Ramtos trying to grab me. Number Seven is my mom and Number Six is her dad... my grandpa. NUMBER ONE is an old man in a wizard robe who I've never seen before. And I'm NUMBER EIGHT. If that guy we just fought knew NUMBER ONE somehow...."

The voice of the Trial Knight comes echoing back towards her, low and with more wisdom than Neriah herself might be able to muster in this situation. The dark-haired girl looks down into her lap.

"...I'm starting to understand, Trial Knight," she says, her voice a little steadier. "Whatever the Chains of Arius are... I'm the one who can break them. For whatever reason."

Neriah flashes Ragnell a faint smile. "With Millennia's help, I think I can master it...."

<Pose Tracker> Ambrosius has posed.

Seven dead, speaking in Neriah's dreams - and haunted by Ge Ramtos all the while. She is the Eighth.

Ambrosius considers this. He was still unsure of the nature of her powers, but her 'legacy', as the Trial Knight put it, was an interesting one. And if the Guardian considered her an enemy, well...

...That was something they had in common, wasn't it?

Perhaps Neriah Parringer was one worth keeping an eye on, in the future. He nods wordlessly toward Neriah in acknowledgment. He had heard, understood...

...And would remember.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

"... 'Number One'... he's the one I saw during my attempt to cleave the darkness in Kislev," Riesenlied expresses, having been more concentrated on ensuring that Neriah was okay. "The middle-aged man I saw within the vision. But if... seven people were dead in your dream, then..."

A quiet frown, as she shakes her head. She isn't certain what Ge Ramtos has to do, or the shaman in this situation either...

She looks towards Ambrosius for a moment, then towards the others. "... if it pulled from someone's memory, instead of yours... does that mean that the curse may have inflicted them upon you?" She can only make hapless theories...

But she's glad that Neriah can start to help control her power... prevent her from going out of control. But what she does know is...

"You're stronger than him. I know you can break these chains."

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

If nothing else, Neriah doesn't seem to be incompatible with Filgaia in the same way a Metal Demon or a Veruni might be. Something else must be going on.

With a blink, Neriah looks at Riese, surprise etched into her face. "You saw him?" she murmurs. "--Right, I guess you would've... but he's there. Along with the faces in the sky. And the screaming. Always the screaming."

She smiles quietly at the Waysider's encouragement. Turning her right hand over, she draws her finger along her palm, tracing out a triangular design. "...I don't even know what an Arius is. But I can learn to be in control. I know I can. Using my power doesn't feel like I'm gonna die anymore... with time, it won't feel like it's gonna consume me, either."